Saint Laurent Church Marseille

Saint Laurent church Marseille is a 13th century religious building next to the Fort Saint-Jean fortress, located within the idyllic Vieux Port harbor.

Construction work on the Eglise Saint Laurent commenced during the 12th century, and it was completed in the 13th century.

The church was built to the top of a hill, ‘La Tourette‘, on the right-hand section (from central Marseille) of Vieux port, next to the Fort Saint-Jean, one of two defensive harbor fortresses.

The church has been dedicated to Saint Laurent, the guardian saint of fishermen

…which is why the church is on the mouth to the old harbor, (historically) close to the fishing boats, blessing them on their way out to the sea.

Saint Laurent church Marseille France

PHOTO: Saint Laurent church harbor-side facade, as seen from the stairs in front of the building (that go down to the harbor).

Le Dresseur d'Oursons statue Marseille

PHOTO: Within the church’s harborside square, Esplanade de la Tourette, you can also find Louis Botinelly’s bronze sculpture “Le Dresseur d’Oursons”, in English “The Bears’ Handler“. Botinelly’s other significant works in Marseilles include a statue of Joan of Arc in front of Saint Vincent de Paul church.

Anciennes douanes Marseille France

PHOTO: Because the church is located on top of a small hill, you’ll have great views from it to the neighboring old harbor of Marseille. In front of the picture above, you can see Marseille’s “douanes anciennes”, the historical customs buildings.

Based on architectural excavations, the church is located at a place, that had — during the founding of the city (around 600 BC) — a temple dedicated to Apollo.

The Saint Laurent church Marseille has been made in a Romano-Provencal architecture style, very typical to the region, with one of the highlights also including its unique church bell.

Saint Laurent church has been rebuilt several times over the centuries, which is why you can find several architectural styles within the building.

One of the most active periods of church rebuilding coincided with the construction of the next door Fort Saint Jean fortress, in 1668.

Main construction material used on the church was red stone.

In front of the church (Esplanade de la Tourette), you can find a bronze artwork by Louis Botinelly, from 1911, “Le Dresseur d’Oursons”.

The artwork portrays a young bear handler in loincloth, playing the tambourine, holding a foot on top of a ball, with the intention of teaching the two bears a balancing act.

Saint-Vincent church is open to visits…

  • on Wednesday and Thursdays: 2pm to 6pm, and
  • on Fridays: 8:30am to midday.